Adolescent betel nut use in Guam: beliefs, attitudes and social norms.Addict Res Theory 2019; 27(5):394-404AR
Betel (areca) nut is an addictive substance chewed with or without tobacco widely in Asia and the Pacific, including the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands (USPI). Betel nut use has been found to cause oral cancer. Research suggests that most betel nut use initiation occurs in adolescence. However, very little is currently known about the etiology of adolescent betel nut use. The present study reports findings of a formative, qualitative research conducted to understand the attitudinal and social factors associated with adolescent betel nut use in USAPI. The objective was to develop a theoretical framework of adolescent betel nut etiology that would guide the development of a prevention program. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 adolescent betel nut users (M age = 14.5; SD = 2.2) from Guam. Findings suggested a framework of adolescent betel nut etiology in which intrapersonal, social, and environmental factors influence betel nut use behavior. The framework is consistent with ecological frameworks of adolescent substance use in which proximal personal and social influences on adolescent substance use occur within the context of a wider socio-cultural context conducive to adolescent substance use. Specifically, we found that beliefs such as betel nut tastes good and induces relaxation represent some of the betel nut use motives; parental permissiveness and peer and sibling use encourage betel nut use; and cultural acceptance and easy accessibility to betel nuts provide an environmental context conducive to betel nut use. Findings are discussed in the context of developing an adolescent betel nut use prevention program.